Lollapalooza 2011: A Look At Perry's Stage

By Jake Guidry in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 26, 2011 7:00PM

Lolla20_thumb.jpg Ever since Perry's Stage debuted in 2008, we've closely monitored its progress. What began as a tiny stage featuring mostly unknown DJs and a few dozen people has blossomed into a spectacle of major names in electronic dance music and a new staging area that will support 15,000 Lollapalooza attendees this year. Needless to say, it's the fastest growing segment of the festival, as thousands of young partygoers opt to spend entire days at Perry's Stage, where they can dance their little hearts away. And while this growth is indicative of electronic dance music's broadened appeal over the past few years (specifically after the electro boom of 2007-2008), what has this rapid expansion done to the integrity of the lineup at Perry's? If 2009 was its flagship year, what does it say to have largely the same style of acts (even the same acts) from a segment of music culture that is so incredibly diverse and changes as fast as the seasons do?

Rhetorical questions aside, the lineup for Perry's is by no means terrible. In fact, we know many will be very excited about the prospect of Girl Talk, Pretty Lights, Modeselektor, Afrojack, The Glitch Mob, Kid Cudi and newly-appointed Prince of Brostep, Skrillex, but there's a significant lack of diversity and risk-taking with these guys. These are all acts that have played in Chicago in the recent past to huge audiences, so the booking of these acts, while logical, is boring. And with our coverage last year that Perry's was becoming too insular, too wrapped up in the "banger" aesthetic, we'd hoped they would make adjustments, even branch out a bit. Instead, they stuck with tried-and-true and somewhat played out names in electronic dance music. In fact, a lot of it can't even be classified as dance music (Bloody Beetroots is punk rock with synthesizers), and that's putting aside the fact that Perry's has, for some reason, become the dumping grounds for the festival's half-hearted booking of hip-hop/rap MCs.

What's most frustrating about the Perry's Stage lineup is that it panders too much to the "party hard" dynamic of dance music. Specifically with the electro boom, popular dance music became more about "raging" and fun times than the music itself. It's the prime reason electro and dubstep music have started to all sound the same: they've become tools in and of themselves to incite specific emotional responses. In this case, mindless partying. And though we love to party as hard as the next guy, again, we've been given no diversity. For the most part, this is electronic mosh music, pump-your-hands-in-the-air-when-the-distorted-bassline-drops music. Where's the soulful stuff? The stuff you groove to? Where's the house, techno, disco, UK funky, moombahton, garage, etc.? Where's the dance music that compels one to do anything other than bong a beer and punch someone in the face? (We kid.)

With all that said, we do truly like some of the acts we've been given: Modeseletkor, Daedalus and Jackmaster are our top picks, and Busy P, Joachim Garraud and Afrojack are definitely safe bets. We just don't see ourselves checking out much else.